Hugo Pool (1997)
If you are looking for a VHS or DVD copy of the film contact
Cast | Formats | Pictures | Quotes | Summary | My Review
|Pool Supply Man
||Mark Boone Jr.
||Robert Downey Jr.
|Andy the Orderly
Written and directed by Robert Downey Sr.
VHS - NTSC / LD / DVD
The DVD in the UK has been retitled "Pool Girl."
Malcolm and Alyssa /
Malcolm and Sean
The whole dysfunctional family reunites
Malcolm being interviewed at the Sundance festival in early
"The ring dang do. That is quite an oddball of stuff,
but I wasn't allowed to use any of the good stuff because they are showing
the films. Actually I love Hugo Pool, I like all those film bits. It's
funny how the bastard children get away." - Malcolm in NY 5/23/02
The film starts with multiple calls to Hugo Dugay's
answering machine, for a pool cleaning company she runs, which she ignores while trying to sleep. Then there is an
unnecessary shower scene with brief nudity (maybe it's to keep the guys awake).
The first character up is Henry, he is a recovering drug addict and her
father. He is getting over an
addiction to something called "Ring Dang Do", presumably like heroin.
This is a role he plays like no previous role and hopefully won't play
again - speaking with a Brooklyn type accent. It is like across between Bugs
Bunny and a movie gangster. His whole role in the film is to drive a tanker truck to
steal water from a river and fill a gangsters' pool, played by the eternally
annoying Richard Lewis. He also wants to prove himself to his daughter after
his failings as an addict.
Cathy Moriarity plays Hugo's mom and she
is divorced from Malcolm, again we presume because of the drugs. She's an addict in her own right, her monkey is gambling. She
owes her bookie $750 and it's either sleep with him or pay the cash, so she turns
to Hugo for the cash. Hugo agrees to give her the money if she will work for
her for the day.
So the stage is set for the dysfunctional
family. They are all back together again, so to speak. That's how the story goes. They travel from house to house doing the
pools and meeting all the weirdoes. One such weirdo is played by Robert Downey
Jr., son of the director and he plays a director! A crazy foreign director, and
it looks like they pulled him out of rehab so he could play this role, he looks
terrible and his character is so over the top that he is just ridiculous and
boring. He also owes Hugo for five
years (how realistic, like anyone would still work for someone who owed them
that much) worth of pool service
and he to agrees to work for her to repay some of his debt.
Then it's off to a young man who is
suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease and is a genius. He is also a paraplegic
confined to a wheelchair. Somehow he knows Hugo's mom plays the ponies and
gives her a tip on that day's race. He wants to bet too, so he forces them to
take him to the track as well.
Hopefully you can see how the story is
going...nowhere. The really bizarre part of the movie is an unknown role played
by Sean Penn, who seems to be playing Perry Farrel of Jane's Addiction fame.
Sean is sleeping in the tanker that Malcolm is supposed to
drive. Sean has these special blue
suede type shoes that Malcolm says about, "Those shoes are
exquisite." So for the rest of the film Malcolm only talks about two
things, the Ring Dang Do and Sean's shoes. He wants those shoes more than anything
Instead of kicking Sean out
of the truck, he rides with him to the river, talking about his shoes most of
the way. Sean reveals that they
are custom made and registered, there are only 5 pairs like them in the world.
film goes on at a snails pace with all these two dimensional uninteresting
characters. Instead of being a
wonderfully bizarre film, it turns out being bizarre for the sake of being
bizarre. You can't set out to make
a cult film, this is the only thing I can figure they were trying for.
So I won't bore you with the rest of the
tedious plot, or bog forbid, spoil the ending for you...BUT I will tell you
about the best scene in the movie and one of the GREATEST scenes of Malcolm's
On the way back from the river Malcolm
starts craving the forbidden Ring Dang Do. He pulls the truck over and takes a bag out with him and precedes to sit
down under a nearby tree. Oh boy, we think he's cracked and is going to shoot
up, but that's not the case. What
he does totally blew my mind and made the whole film worth watching. He pulls out of the bag a Malcolm puppet!!
It's wearing the same clothes as he wears in the movie a black jacket
and blue Hawaiian type shirt and even has the trademark white spiky hair!!!
It is amazing and it I would trade anything I had for it. He does an amazingly bizarre routine with
the puppet doing both voices and at the end he gives the puppet the injection
and it dies. Then he is able to go back to the truck. He kills the puppet instead of himself. Sean is watching and sums it up, "So the puppet is
really a metaphor for you, how beautiful. "
And it is.
Back in mid September 1997 I saw a listing for the premiere of "Hugo
Pool" on The Movie Channel. Of course, Malcolm's name wasn't listed, but I
knew he was in it. I didn't
question it, I just figured it was another made for cable production. Three months later, the same film
was in limited release in movie theaters
across the USA. My foreign droogs
all have wondered how it came to be that I have seen this film before it was
released. So there is your explanation and I'll give you my own take on this
"Hugo Pool" made it's premiere
at the Sundance in January and other film festivals that year, then it's cable
premiere, and last on to the theaters. Possibly a foreign release after that.
It's been a long year for this film. Don't ask me to explain their
marketing strategy for the film. It baffles me. I would have gone to see it in
the movies, if I didn't seen it already for free.
Unlike you, I did not get to read the reviews on this page before I saw
it and believe me I wish I did. I
didn't know what I had gotten into or what the setting and characters meant.
The title comes from Alyssa Milano's character. She owns a pool company
and her name is Hugo, hence the company name is Hugo Pool. How clever. This is
a company any one of us could own or run.
All she does is go from pool to pool pouring in chlorine and skimming
leaves. Hard work. So the story behind the story is that every strange
character has their own little story to tell. Maybe this could work, but it doesn't. I
give one point for Malcolm and one point for the puppet.
This page © 1997-08 Alex D. Thrawn for